It might take only a few minutes, but for the victim of sudden cardiac arrest, it can be the event of a lifetime.

Sudden cardiac arrest strikes about 250,000 adults in the United States annually. More than 95 percent of its victims die before reaching a hospital — many because they don’t receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation in time. Defibrillation is a process in which an electronic device gives an electric shock to the heart to help restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

To help improve those odds, the HaysMed DeBakey Heart Institute and the Hays Medical Center Foundation will host the18th annual Staying Alive Hands Only CPR Training on March 23, at the Center for Health Improvement at Hays Medical Center. The 1.5-hour class is designed for members of the general public, 8 and older; and is not for those seeking professional certification. More than 30 certified instructors and volunteers will donate their time to the event.

Classes in adult and pediatric CPR will be offered at 10 a.m. To register, call (800) 248-0073, ext 5500 or (785) 623-5500 or go to www.haysmed.com/education/

When performed immediately, CPR could double a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival by adding critical minutes to a patient’s life. With CPR, breathing and chest compressions circulate oxygenated blood to the brain, heart and other vital organs until defibrillation is performed.

Cardiac arrest survival is directly linked to the amount of time between the onset of sudden cardiac arrest and defibrillation. Chances of survival drop 7- to 10 percent with every minute of delay. Brain death starts to occur in just four to six minutes

Seventy-five to 80 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests happen at home, so knowing how to perform (CPR) can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one, according to the American Heart Association.